Thoughts on Proportion and Dimension

The work of Canada-based artist John Devlin explores alternative universes and themes of faith, science and humanity. John has been sketching since 1984 and has now created over 1300 drawings, many of which feature elements of collage. In this week’s blog post John shares his thoughts on creating his latest work, a careful consideration of shape and scale using gold leaf.

Recently I decided to try my hand at gold leaf on black paper (gold & black are the colours of my alma mater, Dalhousie University). Having a limited budget, I was intrigued by the problems of how much gold to use, how much gold was enough, how much might be either too much or too little, how to please the eye but not strain the pocket-book. Since it comes in ~3 inch squares, and as I have worked since 1974 exclusively on North American letter-size paper (8.5 x 11 inches), I was faced with these constraints. I experimented. In some cases I used too much gold – more than I could afford (it costs here about CAD$4 per 3 x 3 inch square leaf), and in some cases too little.

In this drawing I used a little less than two squares – 3 x 4 6/7 inches – which was exactly the ratio 21:34. These are two numbers in the Fibonacci series, also very close to the Golden Section. Subtracting the area of gold from the area of underlying and surrounding black paper gave me the ratio of gold:black of 204:1105 (or about 1:5.416).

I like to imagine or convince myself that (for my purposes – pragmatic and aesthetic – if for no other) this possibly is the optimum ratio of gold to black I set out to find. Or near it.

The proof is in the pudding!

John Devlin

Visit John Devlin’s Outside In online gallery

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